The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Pruning fruit trees

Pruning a peach to the open center system

Pruning a peach treeI can understand why many dabblers in orcharding don't prune their tree fruits, or prune them very lightly.  Even though I'm starting to build up my confidence after several years of pruning, I'm still a bit daunted when the time comes to take a wheelbarrow load of branches off our biggest peach tree.  She just looks so naked with the watersprouts, crossing branches, and shaded branches removed, like she couldn't possibly put out a bushel of peaches this summer.  And yet, my photographic record from last year shows that she looked just as shorn after being pruned then, and our peach harvest last summer was phenomenal.

Training a pear tree

I'm almost confident enough about my skills to write a lunchtime series about pruning, but not quite.  Maybe next year.  Especially if I can talk my pear limbs into toeing the line and Training a fruit tree twig with a clothespinsuccumbing to my training job this year rather than making 90 degree turns and growing straight up.

You can read my pruning and training philosophy here.  The only real addition that I made this year was to weigh down the tips of small twigs with clothespins --- this is a quick and easy method of training the tenderest branchlets.  Remember --- the more you can get your trees to do what you want by training instead of pruning, the more energy the tree will have to put into growth and fruit.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I am looking into training fruit trees. I have a bartlett pear that is new, recently planted last season. This year it will start to show signs of growth but should I prune it; tip it, or just leave it alone this year? Any thoughts are much appreciated.
Comment by Jesse Mon Jan 16 10:21:56 2012
You'll need to decide which method you're pruning the pear to -- most people recommend central leader, which you can envision as a bit like a Christmas tree. Once you figure out the eventual shape of your tree, you'll want to choose your major scaffold limbs and prune out anything overlapping them, then train the limbs so that they're growing at about a 45 degree angle. The earlier you start training, the less you have to prune!
Comment by anna Mon Jan 16 11:42:18 2012

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